ROTTERDAM — Roger Federer began the defence of his Rotterdam World Tennis title by crushing Slovenia’s Grega Zemlja 6-3, 6-1 in just 57 minutes on Wednesday.
Federer advanced effortlessly into the second round over last autumn’s Vienna finalist and next faces Dutchman Thiemo de Bakker.
The Swiss top seed and tennis world No 2, improved to 22-5 in Rotterdam as he plays the event for the eighth time, never losing before the quarter-finals.
Zemlja slipped to 1-9 against top 10 opposition after beating No 9 Janko Tipsarevic in the Vienna semi-finals before losing to Juan Martin del Potro.
Federer raced through the opening set in 29 minutes with a break in the final game and rolled on in the second, taking a 3-1 led before closing out with a break in the penultimate game and a love game to finish with a service winner.
“I’ve been here and preparing for a few days, but matches are always different than training,” Federer said. “The ball flies a bit and you have to be prepared.
“I’ll have to be careful against De Bakker. I played him in the Davis Cup (2012). The local players always get up for home matches. I’ll have to approach him carefully and not underestimate him.”
French seeds moved smoothly on with No 4 Richard Gasquet picking up where he left off after winning the Montpellier title at the weekend.
The world number 10 cited the tiebreaker as crucial in a 7-6, (7/3), 6-1 defeat of Serb Victor Troicki to reach the second round.
“Winning the breaker was the key to the match,” said Gasquet. “I played well and was then more confident at the start of the second set. It was the perfect start for me.”
Gasquet is the first man this season on the ATP Tour to win more than one title after starting out in January with Doha honours. The last time he won more than one title in a season was 2006 when he claimed three.
“I’ve only lost once this year,” said Gasquet whose year record stands at 15-1.
“Of course I hope to keep going like this. My only defeat was to (Jo-Wilfried) Tsonga in Australia. I’m fighting as much as I can for ranking points, that’s why I’m here.”
Fifth seed Gilles Simon won his second-round encounter with Italian Matteo Viola 6-3, 6-1 while compatriot Julien Benneteau joined him in the quarter-finals at the Ahoy stadium with a victory over Romanian Victor Hanescu, 6-1, 6-3.
German qualifier Matthias Bachinger earned an upset win over Andreas Seppi, the Italian sixth seed, 6-3, 6-4.